If you want to have a successful excursion in this town, you need a plan—and it better be a good one. Since it's not always easy to strike that perfect balance between "pre-game" drink, food and a show, we bring you the Date Night series — a block-by-block guide to weekend itineraries that only require one parking space. For this weekend's crawl, how about a night exploring the high and the low in North Beach.
Leopold's sausage and kraut (photo by Ed Anderson)
It's been 12 months of good eating. After reviewing all my past blogs, I've pulled out some—though clearly not all—of the most delicious dishes from 2011 and listed them in no particular order. A couple are new discoveries to me (see L'Ardoise), some are rediscoveries (see Kiss), but most are new as of this year.
If you want to have a successful excursion in this town, you need a plan—and it better be a good one. Since it's not always easy to strike that perfect balance between "pre-game" drink, food and a show, we bring you the Date Night series — a block-by-block guide to weekend itineraries that only require one parking space. Today, we guide you on a walking tour
When I think of layer cake, images of smiling, neatly coiffed, white-aproned 1950s housewives come to mind. I think of childhood birthday parties, the Pillsbury dough boy, the red Duncan Hines cake box, and tubs of store-bought icing in pastel colors. It certainly doesn't seem to fit in with the images I've got swirling around San Franciso dessert menus: all homemade ice cream, seasonal pies, and tight-rope walking flavor experiments sprinkled with salt. I can't help but get excited when a layer cake shows up at a dinner out. They're few and far between, so let's take a look at the restaurants and bake shops around town that are taking the sentimental layer cake for a spin.
San Franciscans are the most avid drinkers of Fernet-Branca outside of Italy (where it's made) and Argentina (where it's the unofficial national drink). A bitter digestivo that includes myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile and saffron among its many herbacious and aromatic ingredients, Fernet has forever been the not-so-secret handshake for local bartenders.
First brought to the West Coast by Italian immigrants, Fernet-Branca actually survived the Prohibition Era by billing itself as a "medicinal elixir." Now old Italian grandfathers do it. Hipsters do it. Even my Earth mother, holistic pharmacist at Pharmaca—the very picture of clear-skinned health—tells me it's the only thing she drinks. Jason King, owner of The Broken Record puts it simply: "It's an industry drink, and people look to bartenders for cues on what to drink. It started getting so popular three years ago that I couldn't stock it fast enough." Recently Fernet on-tap and Fernet desserts have become a thing. It seems like our love knows no bounds.